Page last updated at 14:20 GMT, Wednesday, 12 May 2010 15:20 UK

Chetham's School of Music's 36m extension work starts

An artist's impression of the new building
The new school will replace the existing Palatine building

Work has started on the £36m extension to the world-renowned Chetham's School of Music in Manchester city centre.

Planning for the new extension, which will be built alongside the existing 600-year-old building, began in 2005.

Officials said its 400-seat concert hall, teaching rooms and recital hall will help develop the future talent of the music world.

The school's orchestra staged a special construction-themed concert during the ground breaking ceremony on Wednesday.

Project leader Michael Oglesby, a trustee of Chetham's library, said the transformation of the school had acted as a catalyst for other regeneration in the area.

"The development is pivotal to the ambitions of the Manchester city region," he said.

This is a very exciting time for Chetham's, these works signal the beginning of a new era for the school
Claire Hickman, head teacher

"It lies within the northern gateway to the city where major development by the Co-operative Group and at Victoria Station by Network Rail will transform this area.

"The magic of Chets has truly ignited a major regeneration effort by all."

When completed, part of the school - the Palatine building - will be demolished to expose the school's historic buildings which are currently hidden.

A new bridge will also be built across the River Irwell, which runs through the site, to allow the 290 pupils to get from the old school to the new building.

Head teacher Claire Hickman said: "This is a very exciting time for Chetham's, these works signal the beginning of a new era for the school.

"The investment in the buildings will not only provide the best facilities for our students and staff to grow and learn but a musical destination for the public to come and enjoy the magic of Chets."

Some of the existing buildings at Chetham's date back to 1421 and the school itself caters for 290 students.

It is hoped the new building will open in 2012.

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